Time for a ramble on how I’m in love with the Church and my friends at BC…
We had our weekly Holy Hour last night at the St. Thomas More Society. Since I had to leave a bit early for a meeting, I stationed myself in the back of the chapel, rather than my usual position closer up. Being in the back made it easy for me to see all my fellow students, characteristically displaying the reverence due to the Sacrament, enter the chapel and take their completely unofficially assigned positions in the pews. It struck me during the Holy Hour just how incredible, in two senses of the word, the belief in the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is. The True Presence is incredible in the sense of, wow, God loves His people so much so as to completely humiliate himself, to descend, not only 2,000 years ago as lowly carpenter who died for our sins on the Cross, but also every day when completely unworthy men say “This is my body” and “This is my blood” in the context of the Mass. God loves us so much that he cannot resist obeying the words of the priest. What a mystery! What an incredible God. The very idea of such a God (if God is truly a God, that is, truly omnipotent, omniscient, and so on) borders on scandal.
So does the second aspect of the incredibility of the True Presence. It is almost incredible, in a way almost scandalous, that a group of 35-40 undergraduate students gathers weekly to spend an entire hour standing, sitting, kneeling (sometimes even on a hardwood floor) in front of what a person of any other faith would consider a mere wafer, a “cookie,” perhaps. I think of recent events (reported on an obscure blog that I shouldn’t be reading anymore just for the sake of saving time) where a Baptist minister distributed about a Tennessee town a pamphlet describing the devotion to the Eucharist as worship of a cookie. The Boston Globe’s article on the commencement of perpetual adoration at St. Clement’s also comes to mind. In this article, in what could be interpreted as belittling diction, they referred to the Eucharist as a “consecrated wafer.” I mention these events not out of any ill feeling but because, during yesterday’s Holy Hour, the attitudes that these people hold momentarily entered into my mind. Not that I was doubting the doctrine. I think the thoughts were more of a grace to remind me simply how incredible it is that I, and at least 40 of my fellow undergraduate students, really, truly do believe that this cookie, this wafer, is the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ Himself. And what an incredible thing that so many young people desire to spend this time in virtually complete silence, often deliberately causing themselves discomfort by kneeling, practicing what so many people would consider idolatry. Yes, the members of the Thomas More Society ultimate adore the Lord out of love. Nothing else can explain this practice. And it can only be explained as supernatural. Yet, if it’s all true, it makes perfect sense.
One can feel the love. That’s the thing. It’s palpable. Outside the intelligent and reasonable arguments, not to mention the historical precedent (aka Tradition) of Christ Himself, supporting the doctrine of the True Presence, I think one can believe in the True Presence just by experiencing the love connected to this doctrine. It’s present in the chapel, in the Honors Library after the Holy Hour, in the everyday occurrences of friendships, romances, roommates, families of STM. Taking a look at my friends during the Holy Hour and seeing their faces, some eyes closed in quiet reflection, others staring intently and lovingly forward towards the golden gleam of the monstranced Sacrament, seeing more than a few lightly frolick into the chapel after having experienced the healing of Confession, I truly was touched by the love present in the chapel. Internally, my heart leapt every time one of my friends entered in to join us in prayer. I really could feel the love in the chapel increase each time one of my friends became present to our Lord as He is present to us during the Holy Hour. It is, in the real sense, an encounter with the Lord.
Thank God for my STM family at BC and for the Rock that we’re founded on.